The long-term definition of meat quality


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Controlling the variability of quality in beef, veal, pigmeat and lamb
Agricultural and fisheries research
Animal production



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Commission of the European Communities
The long-term definition of meat quality:
Controlling the variability of quality
in beef, veal, pigmeat and lamb
EUR 8988 EN Commission of the European Communities
The long-term definition of meat quality:
Controlling the variability of quality
in beef, veal, pigmeat and lamb
A symposium in the CEC programme
for the coordination of agricultural research
held in Brussels, Belgium, 18 and 19 October 1983
Organized and edited by
G. Harrington
Meat & Livestock Commission
Bletchley, Milton Keynes
United Kingdom
Sponsored by the
Commission of the European Communities
Directorate-General for Agriculture
Coordination of Agricultural Research
1985 EUR 8988 EN Published by the
Information Market and Innovation
Bâtiment Jean Monnet
Neither the Commission of the European Communities nor any person acting on
behalf of then is responsible for the use which might be made of the
following information
Cataloguing data can be found at the end of this publication
Luxembourg, Office for Official Publications of the European Communities 1985
ISBN 92-825-4938-0
Catalogue number: fl H
© ECSC-EEC-EAEC, Brussels · Luxembourg, 1985
Printed in the FR of Germany PREFACE
The extent to which the demand for meat in general and fresh meat in
particular is a function of "quality" is not clear.
The market in which meat and meat products are sold is changing
rapidly. The housewife can choose from many alternative foods in preference
to red meat if she wishes. Many of these competitive products appear to be
better designed to meet modern requirements in terms of convenience, price
and repeatability with minimal waste. These trends in requirements, and
product developments in response, are likely to have the effect of making
"quality" of red meat in its technological sense a more important influence
on demand than it has been in the past.
It is also clear that what constitutes "quality" in a wider context is
already changing. How important will improvements in the traditional
quality factors studied by animal production specialists and meat
technologists, such as appearance and eating satisfaction, be compared
to the new quality dimensions which are concerned with the method of
production, the degree of intensitivity adopted, the use of additives,
growth promoters and the type of feed, and the addition of water and other
substances during processing. These are things which now concern an
increasing number of consumers.
Against a background of quality in this wider sense becoming more
important and influencing the demand for meat, how can the meat trade
influence and present the quality of the red meat that it sells? What
guidance has been provided to them by meat research workers and consumer
specialists, and is it a satisfactory basis for action?
Ill Inevitably the industry is asking if there is a role for quality
schemes of various kinds to excite consumers, to reassure them, to inform
them, and to provide an incentive to the industry to adopt best practice,
Should such schemes be at Community, national, regional or local level
or should the problem be left with traders seeking to increase their
market share competitively? To what extent do commercial specifications
now in operation seek to control quality variation and do they succeed?
At a technical level, we must ask whether more directly useful
information about consumer reactions can be built into scientific and
technical research on meat quality attributes. Should some measure of
consumer reaction be built in to any experiments as a standard practice;
what can be done on a Community basis to move these ideas forward?
This symposium comes at a time of transition. The EEC programme of
collaboration on research on animal husbandry has been working with beef in
all aspects, from production to sensory qualities, as one of its major
priorities since 1975.
Many useful seminars have been held and valuable collaborative work
done, particularly on carcass quality and with expert panels on some aspects
of meat quality. This phase is now coming to an end and further research on
the subject, which will relate to all meats and indeed to all foods, is
being planned within the context of the Commission of the European Commission
Agricultural Research Programme (1984—88).
G Harrington
Director of Planning & Development
Meat and Livestock Commission
PO Box iti»
Queensway House
Milton Keynes MK2 2EF
United Kingdom
Preface III
How meat supplies and demand have developed in Europe
R J Bansback
Surveys of consumer buying practices for meat
J Viane .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 21
Surveys of attitudes to and perceptions of meat
H M Eichinger .. .. .. .. .. .. 37
Evidence of consumer reactions to meat of different origins
E Dransfield .. .. .. .. .. .. 45
Points from discussion of Session 1 .. 67
Review of relative importance of factors up to the
G Harrington 73
Pre and post slaughter factors affecting meat quality
D E Hood and R L Joseph 89
Effects of cooking methods on meat quality
J Kopp and M Bonnet 105
Factors affecting the control of variability :
Contribution of EEC Co-ordinated programmes
and priorities for future work
C Valin and R Boccard 123
Points from discussion of Session 2 129 PAGE
Quantitative trade marks and French "Label Rouge"
R Boccard .. .. .. .. .. ..3
Some Dutch developments on the identification of quality
G Eikelenboom .. .. .. .. .. 139
A research basis for quality schemes
J Mul ..... .. .. .. .. 145
Points from discussion of Session 3 .. ..9
Danish experiences in developing and operating specifications
for beef
L Buchter .. .. . . .. .. .. 153
The experience of Chiron in France
M Hermant .. .. .. .. .. .. 16
The experience of Albert Heijn in the Nitherlands
A Bruin .. .. .. .. . . .. 175
The experience of Marks and Spencer in the United Kingdom
C J Reif ..·.. .. .. .. ..9
German experience in the trade application of objective
criteria for pig meat quality
G Hilse .. .. .. .. .. .. 185
Results of a pilot survey of carcass beef buying
specifications used by meat traders
Ε Β Riordan .. .. .. .. .. .. 191
Points from discussion of Session 4 .. .. 203
5. NOTES FROM THE MEETING - prepared by G Harrington7
List of participants .. .. .. .. 213
R J Bansback, MLC Deputy Chief Economist
Meat & Livestock Commission, PO Box 44, Queensway House,
Bletchley, Milton Keynes MK2 2EF, UK
The paper considers EEC meat production and consumption trends since
1955. Meat consumption has more than doubled since 1955; in terms of per
capita consumption, it increased from 52kg in 1955 to 88kg in 1982. In
recent years there has been a slowing down in growth due to a lower
population, and decline in real incomes. Pigmeat and poultrymeat con­
sumption increased more than beef and lamb, mainly due to price changes.
There are major differences in meat consumption trends in the member
states. Average EEC consumption per head in 1982 amounted to 88kg -
ranging from 73kg in the UK to 111kg in France. Consumption trends have
also been influenced by trends in production, which in turn have been
affected by the Common Agricultural Policy, feed costs and such factors as
genetic improvements.
The aim of this paper is to provide a background to the basic subject
matter of the Symposium - the control of variability in meat quality. I
will attempt to answer the following questions during the course of this
paper. Firstly, what have been the main trends in meat supplies and
consumption in Europe over the past 20 to 30 years? Second, why have
these trends occurred? Thirdly, within these broad movements, what are
the major distinctive developments for particular countries and particular
Inevitably this is a vast subject area to which one paper cannot hope
to do full justice. I have therefore had to be selective, although I hope
that the references provided at the end of the paper will be of help in
indicating some material which will compensate for the omissions of this
paper. A final point of clarification relates to the use of 'Europe'. I
have taken this chiefly to refer to the EEC-10. Although some of the
comments may have a wider application, it should be borne in mind that
there are certain important differences in relation to the situation in
Eastern Europe and in the Scandinavian countries.
Table 1 shows that total meat consumption has increased from 11.84
million tonnes in 1955 to 23.90 million tonnes in 1982 - an increase of 102
per cent. In terms of consumption per head, the rise has been from 52 kg
in 1955 to 88 kg in 1982. Thus the average EEC consumer in 1982 eats
more meat than his counterpart in the USSR (59 kg) or Japan (33 kg) but considerably less than the average consumer in the United States (106 kg),
Australia (106 kg) or Argentina (108 kg).
However, as figure 1 shows, the increase in total meat consumption
has not been a story of continual uninterrupted growth. In the 1955-65
period consumption rose at the rate of 4 per cent per annum; this slowed
down to 3 per cent per annum in 1965-75 and then to 2 per cent per
annum in 1975-82. Indeed, since 1980 there has been no increase in EEC-
10 meat consumption at all, although current indications suggest an upturn
in 1984.
The major reasons for the slowing down in meat consumption growth
are as follows:-
1. Population changes
The growth in total population in the EEC-10 has been slowing
down considerably in recent years; in the 1960's the increase averaged
about 1 per cent per annum; in the 1970's this increase declined to
only about 0.4 per cent per annum and at present the increase (less
than 0.1 per cent per annum) is virtually negligible. To some extent
this has been offset by changes in the demographic age structure - ie
there is currently a higher proportion of adults to children in most
countries' population structures than was the case 10 or 20 years ago;
this should tend to favour meat consumption. However, this advantage
may in turn have been counteracted by other demographic factors (eg
an adverse 'vintage' effect).
2. Incomes
Most studies on meat consumption in the EEC conclude that the
major factor affecting overalln levels over the past few
years has been the income of the consumer. Real incomes in the EEC
grew by an annual average of 5 per cent in the 1960's and 3 per cent
in the 1970's; by contrast, in the most recent period (1980-1983),
income growth has only been about 1 per cent. Income elasticities for
meat (ie the traditional measure used by economists for measuring the
percentage change in quantity consumed resulting from a 1 per cent
rise in real income) are still positive in all EEC countries (see Table
2) and are generally higher than for food overall. Thus, the sizeable
reductions in the economic growth rate over the years and the
consequential slower growth in real incomes in all EEC countries